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Each cell carries, on average 7000 connections to other cells. Therefore the number of cell networks in the brain is 42 thousand billion, or 42,000,000000,000 pieces of information your brain can, store.
Yet your brain only weighs 3 pounds and uses just 10-23 watts of energy per day. That is less than the energy in three bananas.
Each year you will lose about 3.3 million brain cells. But that is less than 0.00000006% of the total. And nearly all of it is replaced, right on up until old age.
There is no truth in the myth that we only use 10% of brain power. The entire brain is being used every day, even if some areas of the brain are there only for storage or for back-up functions.
Super memory. The brain is capable of storing 10 trillion bits of information about you and your life experiences.
The brain can make its own ‘heroin’. Endorphins are released in the Hypothalamus after vigorous physical exercise, injury, meditation, laughter and chocolate. Endorphins are up to 19 times stronger than morphine. By contrast, heroin is only 7 times stronger than morphine.
Being happy is good for the brain. Happy states trigger dopamine release, a feel-good chemical. Personal fulfilment increases neuroplasticity, slows down ageing and improves memory.
Why is adolescence so difficult? One main reason is that, between puberty and early adulthood, the brain is being rebuilt. There is massive growth in the pre-frontal cortex (Headmind); connections between cell networks are being hard-wired (making emotional life-lessons more intense); and there is a temporary loss of connection between the brain’s emotional centres (the limbic system) and the intellectual centres – which means that teenagers lack the capacity to make good decisions.
New experiences are vital for improved brain function. Getting out of the rut and going for new horizons increases cell growth, delays ageing and improves cell connectivity. The same goes when you let go of the past and exercise forgiveness.
Binge-eating. Emotional self-neglect can lead to food cravings and over-eating. So-called stress triggers an increase in Cortisol in the blood stream, which stimulates Insulin release. High insulin levels are associated with a craving for sugary foods and foods high in carbohydrates.
Regular sex (at least twice a week) improves daily moods, reduces pain thresholds, cuts the risk of a heart attack, decreases menstrual pain and promotes sleep. This is because enjoyable sex fosters high endorphin release.
Love and sex can be addictive. Falling in love, like sexual infatuation) is similar to taking cocaine: the hypothalamus triggers a cascade of dopamine. One problem is that, once the dopamine wears off, a ‘down-mood’ sets in, leading to further cravings.
The brain also contains a bonding chemical: Oxytocin. During labour, female brains produce large amounts of oxytocin, which stimulates contractions and smooths the passage of the baby down the birth canal. Oxytocin also creates a primal, intense bond with the child. Adults in love (or during ecstatic sex) also release high levels of oxytocin.
I receive a mischievous communication from my very good friend Mark McGuinness who wants me to comment on a research article he has looked into, written by some ‘Australian psychologists’, which claims that being in a ‘bad mood’ can be ‘good’ for you.
Now, some of my best experiences in life have been prompted by my ‘bad’ moods. With the aid of those I have got rid of countless annoying relationships, irritating jobs and pointless activities. So my first thought was that – yet again – a bunch of overpaid academics were being subsidised to announce discoveries most of us learned in primary school. And that Mark had forgotten our many rambling midnight conversations about emotions and the meaning of life.
Yet I realised immediately that these gorgeous, Bondi-beach seeking academics have made yet another category mistake: While bad moods can, indeed, be ‘good’, those are not the same as ‘bad emotions’.
To remind you: there is no such thing as a bad emotion. Emotions are an expression of Bodymind
intelligence. A mood is different. It is a Headmind attitude. It expresses a relationship between our attitudes and the world as we find it. You can read more about moods here.
A grumpy mood, for me, is a relationship based on suspicion. It means that I no longer trust that experiences, situations, people, or the Lord God himself are doing me any favours. And that, in turn, is a cue that I need to revise my trusting attitude towards these entities. I need to retreat, stand-off, complain, and have a moan. I may even need to disengage – permanently.
So yes – a grumpy mood can be good for you if it helps you get rid of your intellectual garbage.
The funny thing is that I actually find grumpy moods enjoyable. Entraining my suspicion and pessimism on the planet gives me a god-like sense of detachment and playfulness. It also gives me a playground for wit.
Rather like one of my favourite philosophers – Arthur Schopenhauer – who once wrote:
“If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.”
Come to think of it, Schopenhauer deserves an article all to himself, so I will write that next.
In this post I describe how you can shake off negative moods.
The first step is to understand what a mood actually is. It’s not a feeling or an emotion but a subtle change in Bodymind energy which can be sensed both by yourself and by others around you.
For example, a self-pitying mood could manifest as a heavy, oppressive, melancholy kind of energy.
While a fun-seeking mood could be light, bubbly and playful.
The second step is to raise Awareness. Of who you are and what you are doing in the moment. Of your emotions, feelings and moods. You can’t change a mood that you don’t know you have. In some cases you can shake off a bad mood just by becoming aware of it and focusing your attention on something else.
Which brings us to the third method, which is actually the simplest one to use: listening to music. If your mood is down, put on something uplifting. If your mood is bitter, put on something sad. If you are panicky, put on something with a big beat! And so on.
The fourth way is to eliminate the cause of your moods, which reflect your relationship to yourself, to other people, or to life.
- If your relationship to yourself is judgmental your mood is likely to be edgy, tense, strung-out.
- If your relationship to other people is hostile your mood is likely to be prickly and ‘ready-to-blow’.
- If your relationship to life is defeatist your mood is likely to be depressed.
In each case the answer is to change the attitude.
- Instead of passing harsh judgments on yourself, focus on your achievements.
- Instead of attacking people, empathise with them
- Instead of giving up on life find new things to do or a new way to live.
The fifth solution is to get rid of your Personality. You only need to use this one if you find that the same mood keeps coming up, again and again. For example, if you are continually despondent, agitated, or bitter and you have been that way for a while then you have become trapped by false personality.
Image by nyki_m
But first we need to understand what a mood is.
- It isn’t a feeling.
- It isn’t an emotion.
- And it isn’t something that just happens to you.
It’s based on your attitude to things going on around you.
Your attitude, in turn, is governed by your relationship to people, events, the world – as shown to you by Headmind. It is the atmosphere in which you live. It is the atmosphere you give off to others.
For example, if your relationship to the world is that of Victim, your relationship to the world is likely to be self-pitying or else aggressive (in a negative way). So your mood will either be depressive or hostile.
By contrast, if your relationship to the world is based on the idea that you can do anything you want (within reason) then your mood is likely to be sparkling and aggressive (in a positive way).
Attitudes trigger moods in a variety of ways:
- Suspicious (morose, surly mood)
- Hopeless (depressive mood)
- Self-sufficient (tranquil mood)
- Self-important (impatient mood)
- Manipulative (uncomfortable mood)
- Loving (peaceful, blissful mood)
- Nihilistic (despairing, suicidal mood)
It was said that the Buddha filled most of those who met him with a mood combined of tranquillity, kindness and awe. Similar reports apply to Christ.
Whatever your attitude to the world, to others, or to the things that happen to you, the rest of us can tell the kind of person you are, not only by the way you react to situations but by the vibe we pick up from you. One reason for that is that Bodymind not only tells us about other people through the emotions but also tells people about usthrough our moods.
If you prefer not to give away so much about yourself I will be telling you in the next post about how you can change both your attitudes and your (negative) moods.